Brogna Controls Angels Quality


On November 26th, 1996 the Phillies made one of their better trades of the losing late-90’s period. On that Tuesday, 27-year old reliever Toby Borland, coming off two solid middle relief seasons, was sent to the New York Mets along with 26-year old reliever Ricardo Jordan.

The Phillies received 26-year old 1st baseman Rico Brogna in return. Brogna had once been a touted prospect in the Detroit Tigers system, their 1st round pick in the 1988 Draft. Despite a 1992 cup of coffee in Detroit, he was never able to live up to his potential, and was swapped to New York during Spring Training of 1994.

With the Phillies, Brogna would be given a full-time starting role. From 1997-99, the lefty hit .266 with 64 homers and 287 rbi. He also provided a strong glove at 1st base.

Rico Brogna was good enough to play in the Majors, though not good enough to help the team become a winner. But neither Borland or Jordan amounted to anything, so the deal has to be considered a solid win for the Phils.

The Phillies released Brogna in August of 2000, and after a couple of brief stops in Boston and Atlanta, his playing career was over following the 2001 season.

But Brogna was a bright, articulate guy with a passion for the game. He moved into a developmental role as a minor league coach and manager, and also did some scouting.

Earlier this year, Brogna was brought in to help out Angels’ GM Jerry DiPoto, a friend from both their days playing together in the Mets organization and coaching in the Diamondbacks organization.

Beginning the season as a Special Assistant to the GM, he became the official Quality Control Coach in August. In this new role he studies video, analyzes data, and then applies those to concrete things like positioning the defense and helping the hitters put together a plan at the plate.

As with many players who might only have had a modest role or who produced mediocre results during the playing careers, Brogna has been able to parlay his 9 years of experience in the Big Leagues with his natural communication gifts and intelligence to create a role for himself in the game.

NOTE: this piece inspired by a more detailed article by David Laurila at Fangraphs: “Rico Brogna: Quality Control in Anaheim